I am not a stranger to grief. In fact, I feel like it’s a regular part of life for a transient overseas worker like me. So as our third furlough wraps up, the cycle of grieving has begun. Along with the grief of saying ‘good bye’ there is the roller coaster of anticipation of returning to our life and ministry in PNG. It can change hourly, even by the minute, these deep and often overwhelming emotions. The kids are feeling it, too. I know our twins and their little MK friends have been talking about the day when they will have to say “good bye” to each other…and then in the next moment, they talk about going “home” to the country they have spent most of their time growing up in.
We have been able to reconnect with dear friends and family (although we did not get everywhere we had hoped!) and had some new unexpected friendships develop during this furlough. For me, especially, coming back to the U.S., feeling like an anomaly/stranger, these old and new friendships were my lifeline. God used these people in my life to help me piece together the broken parts, something I didn’t even know I needed. I’m never keen on being the ‘needy’ one but I found out along the way that as I was willing to open up and share the hard things, people began opening up to me and sharing their hearts. Often there were ‘life giving’ moments where someone has shared something meaningful, and it has stuck with me. Very rarely did someone expect to ‘fix’ me or give me easy answers; rather, I felt heard and cared for. Something I noticed were threads of common ground, even with people who had completely different backgrounds, occupations and circumstances. Work stress, parenting, marriage issues are all things that a lot of people can relate to, whether you are a missionary or not. Following Jesus and loving each other are also threads of commonality amongst believers. There is nothing like the deep spiritual connection we have with one another!
So I am leaving with a sense of deep gratitude for the relationships I’m leaving behind here in the U.S. This is mixed with sadness. Because there’s nothing like seeing someone face to face, even if you are good at communicating over the miles! To me, it’s a little piece of what I’m expecting from heaven…not just walking into Jesus’ arms but being able to see my loved ones anytime and just “be” with them.
To you all who invested in us, knowing that we would only be here for a short while, thank you. I know that it isn’t easy to share a piece of yourself with someone who is going to leave in a few months. For me, even though it grieves me to leave, I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had to learn, grow and receive healing through these old and new friendships. Those impactful moments are stored away for those lonely times overseas when I can pull them out of my memory and remember you.